When securing drivers for shipments that require entry into a maritime facility, transportation and logistics workers are often introduced to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the program is administered to assess security threats within American seaports.
In 2001, the TWIC program was created after the passage of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA). The MTSA was a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a measure to address growing concern about national security at U.S. seaports. According to an FBI report, the threat of attacks had been very low, but these facilities were still extremely vulnerable. It discovered there were no widely accepted standards for security and most did not require identification cards for transportation companies to enter seaports.
The TWIC program provides drivers with government identification cards, like a driver’s license, to access secured maritime facilities and vessels. U.S. citizens and certain immigration categories can apply for the program, according to the TSA website.
Drivers can apply online or in person at an application center. They need a passport or driver’s license along with a birth certificate to apply and can provide other types of documentation if these are not available. Drivers are fingerprinted and photographed as well. The TSA website explains that cards can be sent within 10 business days of approval.
Permanent disqualifying offenses listed on the TSA website include espionage, treason, terrorism and murder. Offenses allowing interim disqualification for up to five years can include extortion, smuggling, arson and voluntary manslaughter. You can be disqualified if you are currently under warrant or indictment within permanent and interim disqualifying categories, and can reapply once these offenses have been dismissed.
New application fees are $125.25, while replacement fees are $60. Once you receive your card, it does not need to be renewed for five years.
As imports continue to rise, it is important to invest in these licenses so your transportation company can be prepared for contract and spot opportunities.
Many seaports do offer escorts through companies that have seaport clearance. They can escort the driver inside the seaport if the driver does not have a TWIC card on hand. These services can be costly, as the Jacksonville port authority lists hourly fees that can go up to $100 an hour. The fees are usually paid at the time of service, which can unexpectedly damage your cash flow. Seaports may also have restrictions on how many trucks they can escort at a time, with some even denying the service in general.
Lastly, for logistics companies that do not have assets, it is important to note that drivers who have TWIC cards will pass most background checks at federal and state institutions like prisons and military bases. Be sure to note these qualifications within your transportation management systems to make carrier-load matching easier for shipments requiring a driver vetting process.